The Washington Wizards are looking for ways to improve in the Eastern Conference, which is always getting stronger. The Wizards currently hold a 24-26 win-loss record. That puts them in ninth place in the conference. Over the next several days, other clubs throughout the league anticipate the Wizards to be buying rather than selling at the trade deadline. We actually think they should do the latter. Here we will look at what potential 2023 NBA Trade Deadline move the Wizards would regret.
The Wizards seem confident that their trio of Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis can lead them to success in the playoffs. This is why they are considering trading Will Barton and a draft pick to acquire a key player to strengthen their playoff push.
Other teams in their position would have opted for a full rebuild, but the Wizards seem to prefer a different approach. Despite having some tradeable assets, they reportedly will not start from scratch due to their tendency to see themselves as buyers rather than sellers. However, we believe this type of mindset is actually what keeps them mediocre (at best) in the East.
We’re not saying the Wizards should blow up the roster, though. Instead of a major rebuild, the Wizards have the option to make mid-level trades to gain more draft equity at the deadline. Players such as Kyle Kuzma and Barton have valuable contracts. Kuzma, in particular, could bring in some assets if the Wizards play their cards right. However, if they want to keep Kuzma, the Wizards should prepare to offer him a hefty contract or risk losing him for nothing in the off-season.
Kyle Kuzma's 30 points power the @WashWizards to victory! pic.twitter.com/z90ktqV2MX
— NBA (@NBA) January 25, 2023
With all these said, let’s look at what potential 2023 NBA trade deadline move the Wizards would regret.
Wizards keeping Kuzma and Barton
Again we go back to the Wizards having to carefully consider the future of Kuzma on this team. Washington must take into account the importance of guard Bradley Beal to the franchise’s long-term success.
Truthfully, Kuzma is having a career-best season. He has had multiple 30-point games so far, and is averaging career-highs in points, three-pointers made, and assists per game. He has a $13 million player option for next season. Kuzma has also stated that he is unlikely to sign a $70 million, four-year extension with the Wizards.
The forward’s market value is estimated to be around $20 million. That would put him in the top 15 among players in his position. It would also keep the Wizards under the luxury tax. However, the team may be reluctant to pay this amount. As such, they should consider finding trade partners for Kuzma at the deadline.
However, there are no indications that the Wizards plan to trade Kuzma, and they have been linked to other players like John Collins and D’Angelo Russell. Looking ahead, though, if the Wizards don’t trade Kuzma, he can leave as a free agent. That means they will lose a 20-point scorer. They also do not have the ability to replace him due to being over the salary cap. They also recently traded Rui Hachimura.
The Wizards must also consider the impact of trading Kuzma on their commitment to Beal. They have invested $251 million in Beal, who has a no-trade clause. The clear goal with Beal is building a winning roster around him.
On the other hand, Will Barton, who was acquired from Denver this year, is experiencing a decrease in minutes and points compared to previous seasons. He has an expiring $13.7 million contract. That makes him a potential trade target for a team seeking a wing player in exchange for maybe a second-round pick.
Again, dealing Kuzma and/or Barton could bring valuable assets to the team to help it retool. The team has already traded Rui Hachimura for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. They should not stop now. If they keep both Kuzma and Barton, they will fizzle out in the play-in (at best), and possibly lose both in the off-season for nothing.